FLAX art & design, the beloved, family-owned business whose expansive 23,000-square-foot Upper Market store is being forced to vacate its lot beneath surrounding, sky-reaching developments, has found a new home.
In an interview with The Chronicle, Howard Flax, the store’s third-generation owner, unveiled his plan to move the 38-year-old former Market-Valencia mainstay to Building D of Fort Mason, a space that was previously a part of the Mexican Museum, and also once occupied by the Whole Earth Catalog bookstore. The new 5,000-square-foot location will open in mid-October, and will be a welcomed addition for actors, artists, musicians, and others that staff the nonprofits across the campus.
Richie Cullen, an administrator at the Blue Bear School of Music, which will share the same building, told the Chron that he is “super-stoked” about Flax moving in. And Flax himself told future co-tenant and director of The Magic Theater, Ellen Richard, that he would provide for her materials for props and scenery. “If it’s not something we carry now, we can get it,” he said in the article.
A more idyllic setting than its current convergence of several busy San Francisco neighborhoods, the new Fort Mason location offers the serenity of the Bay, the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge, and other muses from which artists in the area can draw inspiration. Flax realizes that this provides an opportunity for plein-air enthusiasts who don’t want to transport materials back and forth.
“Someone strolls down to the end of Pier 2 with an easel, and they can while away three hours, no problem,” he said.
The opportunity to open, and decorate, a new space (“Urban art, spray paint will be along this wall color will line that wall,” Flax is quoted as saying while walking through the space) is just a part of what he has lined up, as he also in negotiations for two additional stores; one in San Francisco similar in size to the current Market Street store which closes in February of 2016 and possibly a second somewhere else in the Bay Area.
Presidio Development Partners, the development group planning to replace Flax’s store with a nine-story, 160-unit condo, was reported to have been one of his biggest advocates for relocating.
“Making sure Howard has a new home has been at the top of our list of most important goals on that site,” said Mark Conroe, who heads the development. “As San Francisco residents, we like Flax as much as the next guys. They are an important S.F. institution.”